I love that Natalie Goldberg will tell a fantasy lie to a total stranger whom she will never meet again. “I have four children,” says the mother of zero with a pleasured smile.
Do you find my response odd being that I’m a doctor of the Church, a seeker of truth and goodness?
Goldberg writes in Old Friend from Far Away: the Practice of Writing Memoir that she used to encourage her students to lie or exaggerate in order to shake them out of their predictable ways of seeing… to be curious—fascinated even—so they might fall in love with their lives.
Doesn’t this sound daring and delicious? Am I’m still too tied to the earth and the heavens to dive so deeply into make believe? I didn’t have imaginary friends as a child. Even my daydreams proved flimsy and quite boring.
Now that I watch movies and Netflix, Hulu, Starz, HBO…my imagination has more color and action, more plot. Yet, still I have to beat down the wall of concrete thinking, right/wrong, truth.
Maybe my worse confession to date is that I have yet to spin a big one. A humdinger. A fabulous fib. Except maybe on airplanes.
Back to fantasy, and waking up, and falling in love with life… while high above the earth, and a stranger’s elbow brushing my sleeve, I trace the letters of the travel mag directly in front of me, or I read books on my phone. I snooze. But sometimes, when the chemistry is right, I set about memorizing the side of a face in profile against the bright light streaming past the window shade, and while blocking out a child’s wails or the cologne of a man across the aisle, I’ve let my imagination spool. Between bites of pretzel and listening, I’ve told about writing with a film crew in Hawaii. Being a novelist. A memoirist. A professor. A doctor of the Church. Coauthoring with one of Forbes most powerful CEO’s under age 40. Hiking, biking, skiing. International travel. Writing with celebrities, one who has a castle in the Mediterranean. Riding horses. Owning properties in Montana and Nashville.
Crazy thing, all are true.
Maybe I should tell about my camino, and our trip down the Colorado River, or that time in Croatia. Yes, even if my lively exposé doesn’t rank in the fat or juicy tale category, can I lean into the future and claim in advance what is currently out of reach, but is sure to be? If only I can set it in my mind’s eye like those tales my kids boldly spin for me to step into—fantasies of great daring, of adventure, music, dance, martial arts, and even of being still and content.
And, one of these days I might put on my thespian face and tell that humdinger to a stranger. I’ll choose the man across the aisle with the smelly cologne.
What is the difference between fantasizing and envisioning a reality that you want to lean into and make it yours? Goldberg would ask, what fantasies can you admit to?